Thinking of creative and hard-to-hack passwords becomes difficult over time and remembering them is just as much of a challenge. You can only go through so many variations of the name of your childhood pet and a few numbers. And now, with the Heartbleed virus and other cyberthreats​, it's important to take the time to regard the importance of your password and what makes one strong versus weak.
 
Passwords are your first line of defense against prying eyes and the best way to build that defense is to make them unique and complex. Consider these tips to ensure you have solid password protection:
 
1. Don't use the same password for multiple sites. If a hacker figures your password out and you have only one, they have free reign across your accounts. Keeping varied passwords means not keeping a rotation of easy-to-remember codes – don't just change your password by one letter or number and reuse it.
 
2. Don't use real words. Hackers can easily get into devices that use common terms. To prevent this, don't use real people, places or things as the basis of your password. This also means you shouldn't use your family members' or your pets' names.
 
3. Make them longer. Normally, a website requires at least eight characters but you're better off using more than that – think twice that. The longer the password, the harder it is to hack.
 
4. Mix lower and upper case letters. Think outside the box – don't just capitalize the first letter. Random variation helps make your password unique: LIkE tHiS.
 
5. Use symbols. The easiest way to implement symbols is to replace letters of a common letter such as changing a "A" to "@." However, this is becoming easier to crack so be creative! Instead of using a symbol as a replacement, just insert it in the middle of a word. 
 
6. Use numbers. Add unique number variations to your password. However, don't use numbers close to you such as your license plate, social security number or phone number. 
 
7. Avoid common passwords. CBS found some of the most common passwords in 2013 were 123456, qwerty, iloveyou, letmein, abc123, 00000 and password. Stay away from these mistakes. 
 
8. Change your passwords every six months. The longer you keep the same password, the more likely a hacker can crack it.
 
9. Find a password manager. Keeping track of long complex codes can be difficult though so look into using a password manager such as LastPass. This program stores everything on your computer so your information isn't online.
 
10. Use an auto-password generator: But if you're running low on time and need a secure password right away, just use a generator like www.identitysafe.norton.com/password-generator.
 
Once you've learned the steps to creating strong passwords, you're on your way to building a powerful defense against hackers. Remember to take time to implement strong passwords. The more creative you get, the more solid your protection.